Setting Boundaries Is Key to Balance

While on vacation, I responded to a few work emails while I was waiting for transportation. Everyone I emailed, immediately responded with “Stop emailing! You’re on vacation.”

Taking a vacation is one way to recharge. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

Taking a vacation is one way to recharge. (Photo by Cynthia Price)

They were right to tell me to stop. Fortunately, one of them also was my boss.

It’s important to take a break from work, or anything else that consumes a lot of your time. By taking the break, you can reenergize and “sharpen your saw,” as author Stephen Covey says.

For the rest of my vacation, I only checked emails twice and that was to delete the ones that I wouldn’t need when I returned. It felt good to know that I wouldn’t face a few hundred emails upon my return. I saw no critical or time-sensitive email subject lines and, therefore, didn’t open any emails.

I thoroughly relaxed on my vacation as a result, and came back fully charged.

Giving yourself a vacation is one way to ensure you have good work life balance and the opportunity to recharge. It’s also a way of setting boundaries.

Another way is to set a start time and end time to your day. As someone working in PR, there will always be another deadline and another project. It’s important for me to set boundaries to arrive and leave at reasonable hours. I allow myself one day a week for a slightly longer day. This allows me to dig deep into a project or move many items forward a bit. The other days, I leave on time. In the past, I’ve asked others to stop by my office on their way out to remind me that it was time to go home. I no longer need that reminder so I know I’m making progress.

I also have established expectations with my supervisor and colleagues. An email after hours usually doesn’t require a response, but a text message or a phone call does. I’ve set different alert tones so I can be more attuned to texts and phone calls.

It’s important to establish boundaries. “If you cannot establish boundaries for yourself, you cannot expect others to do it for you,” says Michael D. Watkins, author of The First 90 Days.

One area I still need to work on is scheduling time for exercise, which is a great way to clear the mind and, often problem solve. I’ve managed to get out of the habit, but with an amazing gym facility where I now work, I simply need to establish my schedule. I’m starting this week by marking in my calendar which two days I will go to the gym. I’m starting with an achievable goal and will add days to it.

Finding balance and ways to recharge are your responsibility. What are you doing to achieve that balance? I’d love to hear your ideas and see if there are any I can try.

Travel Lessons Bridge to Daily Life

When you travel, you can try new foods such as blood sausage with quail eggs or toast with baby eel -- or not! (Photo by Cynthia Price)

When you travel, you can try new foods such as blood sausage with quail eggs or toast with baby eel — or not! (Photo by Cynthia Price)

I love to travel, but sometimes it’s difficult, even challenging.

I don’t always speak the language of the countries that I visit. The food is different. A location isn’t on a map or GPS. But I’ve never regretted a trip.

The challenges of travel also can help you navigate in the world. How?

Through travel you can learn to live with discomfort and uncertainty. You’ll find that when you get good at this, you can do anything.

Through travel, you keep learning. You learn about people, places, history.

Often you’ll find ways that it intersects with other aspects of your life. On a trip to Italy, I learned how art was the equivalent of today’s Facebook — a way to capture life and communicate with others, for example.

Travel helps get you off the beaten path and allows you to explore new ways and new things.

If you’re feeling stagnant in your job, perhaps it’s time to take a trip.

References Made Easy

The other day I received a call from a recruiter who wanted to know more about an individual who had been an intern on my team three years ago.

Unfortunately, I couldn’t help, and it’s not that I didn’t want to.

I work with lots of interns, and, unfortunately, I couldn’t remember the specific work this person had done because it was a few year’s ago. What would have been helpful is if the person had reached out to me in advance, told me about the position and provided me with some highlights of her work.

When you are seeking a job, think about the individuals whom you will ask to be your references. It’s a good idea to keep a list of three to seven references and all of their contact details at the ready. That way, you can choose the individuals who can best talk about you in terms of a specific skill set or organizational culture. For example, in my current job, one of my references discussed my crisis communications skills.

Even if you have used a person before as a reference, reach out to the person and ask his permission. Be sure to tell him about the job you are applying for and why it’s important to you. Also let him know which of your skills should be emphasized. You may want to provide him with talking points.

Whether you land the job or not, let your references know the outcome. It’s an appropriate way to continue networking and maintaining the relationship.